Drawing on examples from the history of warfare from the crusades to the present day, "The ethics of war" explores the limits and possibilities of the moral regulation of war. While resisting the commonly held view that 'war is hell', A.J. Coates focuses on the tensions which exist between war and morality. The argument is conducted from a just war standpoint, though the moral ambiguity and mixed record of that tradition is acknowledge and the dangers which an exaggerated view (...) of the justice or moral worth of war poses are underlined. In the first part, the broad image of the just war is compared with the competing images of realism, militarism and pacifism. In the second part, the moral issues associated both with the decision to go to war and with the manner in which war is conducted are explored. Was the allied decision to go to war in the Gulf premature? were economic sanctions a more effective and morally preferable option? was Britain justified in going to war over the Falklands? did the allied bombing of Germany in the Second World War constitute a war crime? should the IRA's claim to belligerent status be recognised? these questions and more are raised in this important book. (shrink)
Moore, Wittgenstein, Keynes and the Social Sciences John Coates. Darwin's theory of natural selection offers a causal connection between subjective simplicity and objective truth in the following way. Innate subjective standards of simplicity ...
The Claims of Common Sense investigates the importance of ideas developed by Cambridge philosophers between the World Wars for the social sciences concerning common sense, vague concepts and ordinary language. John Coates examines the thought of Moore, Ramsey, Wittgenstein and Keynes, and traces their common drift away from early beliefs about the need for precise concepts and a canonical notation in analysis. He argues that Keynes borrowed from Wittgenstein and Ramsey their reappraisal of vague concepts, and developed the novel (...) argument that when analysing something as complex as social reality, theory might be simplified by using concepts which lack sharp boundaries. Coates then contrasts this conclusion with the view shared by two contemporary philosophical paradigms - formal semantics and Continental post-structuralism - that the vagueness of ordinary language inevitably leads to interpretive indeterminacy. Developing a link between Cambridge philosophy and work on complexity, vague predicates and fuzzy logic, he argues that Wittgenstein's and Keynes's ideas on the economy of ordinary language present a mediating route for the social sciences between these philosophical paradigms. (shrink)
In an advertisement for water filter cartridges, we see a tumbling waterfall. The caption reads, "Like nature, Brita is beautifully simple." What kind of thinking is this? Is nature an objective reality that, in its beautiful simplicity, is unaffected by time, culture, and place? The word _nature _itself: what do we actually mean by it? These are some of the riveting questions examined by Peter Coates as he demonstrates that nature, like us, has a history of its own. Beginning (...) with Roman times, Coates investigates the ideological and material factors that have influenced human perceptions of, attitudes toward, and uses of nature—notably religion and ethics, science, technology, economics, gender, and ethnicity. Nature is seen among its rich panoply of meanings as a physical place, as the collective phenomena of the world, as an essence or principle that informs the workings of the world, as an inspiration and guide for people and a source of authority governing human affairs, and as the conceptual opposite of culture. By examining these aspects of nature, Coates leads us on a spectacular tour of the central intellectual forces of Western civilization. The book is essential reading for those who seek an understanding of the history of ideas and the role of nature in that history. (shrink)
It is widely held that if an agent is not morally responsible for her action – i.e., if she is not deserving of blame – then we have a (decisive) reason to refrain from blaming her. But though this is true, the fact that someone is deserving of blame isn’t clearly sufficient for there to be most allthings- considered reason for blaming that person. Other considerations bear on this question as well. Coates offers an account of some of these (...) considerations – particularly those that can serve as deontic constraints on blame. He also offers a reply to those skeptical of the “ethics of blame” on the grounds that such theorizing invariably appeals to the “wrong kind of reasons.”. (shrink)
Epistemic akrasia arises when one holds a belief even though one judges it to be irrational or unjustified. While there is some debate about whether epistemic akrasia is possible, this paper will assume for the sake of argument that it is in order to consider whether it can be rational. The paper will show that it can. More precisely, cases can arise in which both the belief one judges to be irrational and one’s judgment of it are epistemically rational in (...) the sense that both are supported by sufficient evidence. (shrink)
This is the first chapter to our edited collection of essays on the nature and ethics of blame. In this chapter we introduce the reader to contemporary discussions about blame and its relationship to other issues (e.g. free will and moral responsibility), and we situate the essays in this volume with respect to those discussions.
In this paper we discuss studies that show that most people do not find determinism to be incompatible with free will and moral responsibility if determinism is described in a way that does not suggest mechanistic reductionism. However, if determinism is described in a way that suggests reductionism, that leads people to interpret it as threatening to free will and responsibility. We discuss the implications of these results for the philosophical debates about free will, moral responsibility, and determinism.
Ordinarily, we take moral responsibility to come in degrees. Despite this commonplace, theories of moral responsibility have focused on the minimum threshold conditions under which agents are morally responsible. But this cannot account for our practices of holding agents to be more or less responsible. In this paper we remedy this omission. More specifically, we extend an account of reasons-responsiveness due to John Martin Fischer and Mark Ravizza according to which an agent is morally responsible only if she is appropriately (...) receptive to and reactive to reasons for action. Building on this, we claim that the degree to which an agent is responsible will depend on the degree to which she is able to recognize and react to reasons. To analyze this, we appeal to relations of comparative similarity between possible worlds, arguing that the degree to which an agent is reasons-reactive depends on the nearest possible world in which given sufficient reason to do otherwise, she does so. Similarly, we argue that the degree to which an agent is reasons-receptive will depend on the intelligibility of her patterned recognition of reasons. By extending an account of reasons-responsiveness in these ways, we are able to rationalize our practice of judging people to be more or less responsible. (shrink)
Blame is usually discussed in the context of the free will problem, but recently moral philosophers have begun to examine it on its own terms. If, as many suppose, free will is to be understood as the control relevant to moral responsibility, and moral responsibility is to be understood in terms of whether blame is appropriate, then an independent inquiry into the nature and ethics of blame will be essential to solving (and, perhaps, even fully understanding) the free will problem. (...) In this article we first survey and categorize recent accounts of the nature of blame – is it action, belief, emotion, desire, or something else? – and then we look at several proposed requirements on appropriate blame that look beyond the transgressor himself, considerations that will form part of a full account of the ethics of blame. (shrink)
This book is an important study in the philosophy of the mind; drawing on the work of philosopher Wilfrid Sellars and the theory of critical realism to develop a novel argument for understanding perception and metaphysics.
If philosophical moral reflection tends to promote moral behavior, one might think that professional ethicists would behave morally better than do socially comparable non-ethicists. We examined three types of courteous and discourteous behavior at American Philosophical Association conferences: talking audibly while the speaker is talking (versus remaining silent), allowing the door to slam shut while entering or exiting mid-session (versus attempting to close the door quietly), and leaving behind clutter at the end of a session (versus leaving one's seat tidy). (...) By these three measures, audiences in ethics sessions did not appear to behave any more courteously than did audiences in non-ethics sessions. However, audiences in environmental ethics sessions did appear to leave behind less trash. (shrink)
Truth is a value in that sense that a belief is good (or successful, or correct) just in case it is true. But it does not follow that truth is a good-making property, nor does it follow that the nature of truth explains its value. Instead, this paper argues that the nature of belief explains its value.
: Agents are enkratic when they intend to do what they believe they should. That rationality requires you to be enkratic is uncontroversial, yet you may be enkratic in a way that does not exhibit any rationality on your part. Thus, what I call the enkratic requirement demands that you be enkratic in the right way. In particular, I will argue that it demands that you base your belief about what you should do and your intention to do it on (...) the same considerations. The idea is that, if you base your belief and your intention on different considerations, then you are inconsistent in your treatment of those considerations as reasons. The enkratic requirement demands that you be enkratic by treating considerations consistently as reasons. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that it is inappropriate for us to blame others if it is not reasonable for us to believe that they are morally responsible for their actions. The argument for this claim relies on two controversial claims: first, that assertion is governed by the epistemic norm of reasonable belief, and second, that the epistemic norm of implicatures is relevantly similar to the norm of assertion. I defend these claims, and I conclude by briefly suggesting how this (...) putative norm of blame can serve as the basis for general norms of interpersonal generosity. (shrink)
This paper examines the ethics of using assistive technology such as video surveillance in the homes of people living with dementia. Ideation and concept elaboration around the introduction of a camera-based surveillance service in the homes of people with dementia, typically living alone, is explored. The paper reviews relevant literature on surveillance of people living with dementia, and summarises the findings from ideation and concept elaboration workshops, designed to capture the views of those involved in the care of people living (...) with dementia at home. The research question relates to the ethical considerations of using assistive technologies that include video surveillance in the homes of people living with dementia, and the implications for a person living with dementia whenever video surveillance is used in their home and access to the camera is given to the person’s family. The review of related work indicated that such video surveillance may result in loss of autonomy or freedom for the person with dementia. The workshops reflected the findings from the related work, and revealed useful information to inform the service design, in particular in fine-tuning the service to find the best relationship between privacy and usefulness. Those who took part in the workshops supported the concept of the use of camera in the homes of people living with dementia, with some significant caveats around privacy. The research carried out in this work is small in scale but points towards an acceptance by many caregivers of people living with dementia of surveillance technologies. This paper indicates that those who care for people living with dementia at home are willing to make use of camera technology and therefore the value of this work is to help shed light on the direction for future research. (shrink)
The Ockhamist claims that our ability to do otherwise is not endangered by God’s foreknowledge because facts about God’s past beliefs regarding future contingents are soft facts about the past—i.e., temporally relational facts that depend in some sense on what happens in the future. But if our freedom, given God’s foreknowledge, requires altering some fact about the past that is clearly a hard fact, then Ockhamism fails even if facts about God’s past beliefs are soft. Recent opponents of Ockhamism, including (...) David Widerker and Peter van Inwagen, have argued along precisely these lines. Their arguments, if successful, would undermine Ockhamism while avoiding the controversy over the alleged softness of facts about God’s past beliefs. But these arguments do not succeed. The past facts they rely on must be clear and uncontroversial examples of hard facts about the past, and these facts must be such that an ability to refrain from the relevant future action implies an ability to alter the relevant hard fact. We demonstrate the flaw in these arguments by showing how they rely on past facts that do not satisfy these criteria. The Ockhamist may have troubles, but this type of argument is not one of them. (shrink)
What are phenomenal qualities, the qualities of conscious experiences? Are phenomenal qualities subjective, belonging to inner mental episodes of some kind, or should they be seen as objective, belonging in some way to the physical things in the world around us? Are they physical properties at all? And to what extent do experiences represent the things around us, or the states of our own bodies? Fourteen original papers, written by a team of distinguished philosophers and psychologists, explore the ways in (...) which phenomenal qualities fit in with our understanding of mind and reality. This volume offers an indispensable resource for anyone wishing to understand the nature of conscious experience. (shrink)
Robert Brandom makes several mistakes in his discussion of Sellars's "Two-Ply" account of observation. Brandom does not recognize the difference in "level" between observation reports concerning physical objects and 'looks'-statements. He also denies that 'looks'-statements are reports or even make claims. They then demonstrate a more correct reading of Sellars on 'looks'-statements.
This volume contains contributions on different aspects of practical conflicts by: Peter Baumann Monika Betzler Ruth Chang Jon Elster Barbara Guckes Christine M. Korsgaard Isaac Levi Alfred R. Mele Joseph Raz Henry S. Richardson Peter Schaber J. David Velleman Nicholas White.
The subjective character of a given experience leaves open the question of its precise status. If it looks to a subject K as if there is an object of a kind F in front of him, the experience he is having could be veridical, or hallucinatory. Advocates of the Causal Theory of perception (whom I shall call.
In recent defenses of moral responsibility skepticism, which is the view that no human agents are morally responsible for their actions or character, a number of theorists have argued against Peter Strawson’s (and others’) claim that “the sort of love which two adults can sometimes be said to feel reciprocally, for each other” would be undermined if we were not morally responsible agents. Among them, Derk Pereboom (2001, 2009) and Tamler Sommers (2007, 2012) most forcefully argue against this conception of (...) love. However, in this paper, I plan to defend the claim that there is an essential connection between love and moral responsibility, a thesis I will call love internalism. To begin, I will specify the content and scope of love internalism, and consider ways in which other theorists have attempted to motivate it. I will then consider the various arguments that Pereboom and Sommers advance against love internalism. These arguments, it seems to me, offer us powerful reasons to reject several of the ways in which philosophers have tried to connect moral responsibility to love. Consequently, in light of these criticisms, I will further precisify the content of love internalism. And as we will see, love internalism (as I argue for it) is immune to Pereboom’s and Sommers’ criticisms. Moreover, when its content is sufficiently clarified, love internalism can serve as a plausible premise in an anti-skeptical argument. I thus conclude by arguing that this suitably reformulated statement of love internalism offers a significant challenge to moral responsibility skepticism of the sort Pereboom and Sommers endorse. (shrink)
The problem of the richness of visual experience is that of finding principled grounds for claims about how much of the world a person actually sees at any given moment. It is argued that there are suggestive parallels between the two-component analysis of experience defended by Wilfrid Sellars, and certain recently advanced information processing accounts of visual perception. Sellars' later account of experience is examined in detail, and it is argued that there are good reasons in support of the claim (...) that the sensory nonconceptual content of experience can vary independently of conceptual awareness. It is argued that the Sellarsian analysis is not undermined by recent work on change blindness and related phenomena; a model of visual experience developed by Ronald Rensink is shown to be in essential harmony with the framework provided by Sellars, and provides a satisfactory answer to the problem of the richness of visual experience. (shrink)
The issue of what distinguishes systems which have original intentionalityfrom those which do not has been brought into sharp focus by Saul Kripke inhis discussion of the sceptical paradox he attributes to Wittgenstein.In this paper I defend a sophisticated version of the dispositionalistaccount of meaning against the principal objection raised by Kripke in hisattack on dispositional views. I argue that the objection put by the sceptic,to the effect that the dispositionalist cannot give a satisfactory account ofnormativity and mistake, in fact (...) comprises a number of distinct lines ofargument, all of which can be satisfactorily answered by the dispositionalist. (shrink)
Cognitive internalism is the view that moral judgments are both cognitive and motivating. Philosophers have found cognitive internalism to be attractive in part because it seems to offer support for the idea that moral reasons are categorical, that is, independent of agents’ desires. In this paper, I argue that it offers no such support.
Experiences of all kinds have a distinctive character, which marks them out as intrinsically different from states of consciousness such as thinking. A plausible view is that the difference should be accounted for by the fact that, in having an experience, the subject is somehow immediately aware of a range of phenomenal qualities. For example, in seeing, grasping and tasting an apple, the subject may be aware of a red and green spherical shape, a certain feeling of smoothness to touch, (...) and a sweet sensation. Such phenomenal qualities are also immediately present in hallucinations. According to the sense-data theory, phenomenal qualities belong to items called “sense-data.” In having a perceptual experience the subject is directly aware of, or acquainted with, a sense-datum, even if the experience is illusory or hallucinatory. The sense-datum is an object immediately present in experience. It has the qualities it appears to have. (shrink)
This paper examines the contents of perceptual experience, and focuses in particular on the relation between the representational aspects of an experience and its phenomenal character. It is argued that the Critical Realist two-component analysis of experience, advocated by Wilfrid Sellars, is preferable to the Intentionalist view. Experiences have different kinds of representational contents: both informational and intentional. An understanding of the essential navigational role of perception provides a principled way of explaining the nature of such representational contents. Experiences also (...) have a distinct phenomenal content, or character, which is not determined by representational content. (shrink)
A strictly Millian approach to proper names is defended, i.e. one in which expressions when used properly ('onymically') refer directly, i.e. without the semantic intermediaryship of the words that appear to comprise them. The approach may appear self-evident for names which appear to have no component parts (in current English) but less so for others. Two modes of reference are distinguished for potentially ambiguous expressions such as The Long Island . A consequence of this distinction is to allow a speculative (...) neurolinguistics of proper ('onymic') and semantic ('non-onymic') reference. A further consequence is that translation of onymically referring expressions is impossible (since they have no semantic content), and some apparently self-evident objections to this view are met by insisting on a distinction between a proper name as a referring expression and its etymology. The nature of the linguistic mechanism(s) by which an expression becomes proper (i.e. loses sense) shows that etymological opacity is a precondition for the survival of words in certain proper names, furnishing evidence for reference without sense. The process of becoming proper amounts to abrogation of sense for the purpose of reference, which is precisely the requirement for a systematic defence of Mill. (shrink)
In this paper I introduce and critically examine a paradox about perceiving that is in some ways analogous to the paradox about meaning which Kripke puts forward in his exegesis of Wittgenstein's views on Rule-following. When applied to vision, the paradox of perceiving raises a metaphysical scepticism about which object a person is seeing if he looks, for example, at an apple on a tree directly in front of him. Physical objects can be seen when their appearance is distorted in (...) various ways by illusions. The question therefore arises as to how can we answer the sceptic who suggests the following: although the viewer appears to be seeing the green apple in front of him, he is actually suffering a bizarre illusion of a blue car situated somewhere behind him. The sceptic is not concerned with epistemic problems about how we know which object, if any, the subject is seeing; the sceptic is raising the more fundamental question: whatfact of the matter underlies a person's perceptual relation to the physical world, in virtue of which that person may be justified in arriving at a perceptual belief about the environment? Among the various different issues raised by the sceptic, I focus on the question: what determines the perceiving relation? I canvass a number of possible proposals in answer to it, concentrating mainly on two opposed accounts: the Disjunctive View and the Causal Theory of Perception. I argue in particular for the following two claims: that the paradox highlights the fact that the Disjunctive View fails to provide a coherent positive account of what perceiving is. that the problem of 'deviant causal chains', often thought to raise particular difficulties for the Causal theorist, can also be raised against other accounts of perception, including versions of the Disjunctive View. I conclude that unless the Causal Theory of Perception can be upheld, there will be no way of answering the sceptic. (shrink)
This paper defends a dynamic model of the way in which perception is integrated with action, a model I refer to as ‘the navigational account’. According to this account, employing vision and other forms of distance perception, a creature acquires information about its surroundings via the senses, information that enables it to select and navigate routes through its environment, so as to attain objects that satisfy its needs. This form of perceptually guided activity should be distinguished from other kinds of (...) semi-automatic responses to visual stimuli that do not necessarily involve conscious experiences. It essentially involves inner states, which involve both the awareness of phenomenal qualities, and also a representational component. The navigational account is compared here with the enactive approach to perception, which opposes the view that perceptual experiences are inner states. This paper argues that a full account of perception raises a number of different questions. One central explanatory project concerns questions about the kinds of processes that currently enable a creature to identify and respond appropriately to distant objects: the answer, it is argued, lies in acknowledging the role of conscious inner representations in guiding navigational behaviour through complex environments. The fact that perception and action are interdependent does not conflict with the claim that inner representational states comprise an essential stage in visual processing. (shrink)
A technological revolution with first order implications is undeniable and underway. That is the permeation of society by computers and telecommunications technology. For western society, committed to a social, economic, and value structure premised upon an industrial society, the move to an information society is more than disruptive; it is transformational. Current changes are so rapidly paced in relation to business planning that it creates major challenges and opportunities to reach out, influence, and guide the change.The telematics revolution will affect (...) every aspect of our society since it will affect every aspect of our world which involves the generation, production, storage, or handling of information. Many ethical issues are touched upon. To sum them up, the new immorality is to choose to act in ignorance of future consequences. (shrink)